Tonja VanRoy | Kids Left in the Lurch

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

As everyone is aware, there is a mental health crisis within pre-teen/teenage kids. The lack of socialization during the pandemic caused many kids to have major issues, including depression. Teachers, administrators and staff at schools need to be compassionate, considerate and understanding of these issues in our society — not exacerbating them. Sadly, that is not the case at Sierra Vista Junior High School. I have two granddaughters who attend Sierra Vista in the eighth grade. There have been several concerning issues with the administration at the school.

The school recently held its “Enchanted Forest Spring Dance.” This was the first school dance any of these children will ever have. For some, it would be the only one in middle school as they are going to high school next year. My granddaughters were beyond excited about this event, and spent hours deciding what to wear, how to do their hair, shopping, etc. One was the TOP collector for their annual fundraiser and was to receive her award at this dance. The dance was to start at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 29. 

One of my granddaughters arrived at 5:30, with her mother. Sadly, when they arrived to the doors for the dance, there were two other girls outside the gym who were in tears, stating they weren’t being allowed in. My daughter questioned why, and then looked for a staff member to see what was going on. 

The principal, Mr. Marcus Garrett, took 15 minutes to come out, and then just said that “doors closed at 5:15, no one else is in after that.” He stated that ALL staff needed to be in the gym chaperoning the attendees. My granddaughter and the other girls were crying, understandably extremely upset. Mr. Garrett felt that not looking at anyone, and instead texting on his phone was the professional way to handle this. At some point, an assistant principal came out as well —and they both REFUSED to let these three girls in. 

Please note that at no time was it relayed to the parents that the “doors would be closed at 5:15 p.m. with no ability to enter after that time.” It was only relayed that the dance was from 5 to 7 p.m., and once the children entered, they were required to stay for the entire event. 

My daughter had work until 5 and could not get out any sooner. She left as soon as she was off work and took my granddaughter to the school.  

To make this even more unbelievable, Mr. Garrett told these girls that they needed to go “sit in front of the school.” I find it remarkable that a school administrator, tasked with the safety of our children, didn’t have any issue, or concern, with having three young girls, who were all dressed for a dance, sitting in front of a school unattended and without protection. 

My daughter, horrified at this, stayed at the school with the girls, to protect them, until 7 p.m. – waiting until the students left the gym and the girls were able to be with other students. 

Considering Mr. Garrett was so worried about “chaperoning” the students in the gym, how was it he could stand outside and intentionally, coldly and without any compunction deny entry to these girls? 

He spent 15 minutes telling them why they couldn’t get in, when he could have been a human with a heart in his chest, and allowed them entry. There weren’t other kids arriving late. It was just three girls, with issues outside their control, who spent days preparing for this milestone in their lives, and he turned his back on them and walked away. 

We are trying to get this story out because if the school administrators do not open their eyes and realize the human side of their jobs, the problems we have in schools today will only get worse. 

The treatment these girls got was inhumane — and absolutely inappropriate. Only when the community at large speaks up will there be any chance for the kids at Sierra Vista Junior High School to have their voices heard and their feelings considered.

Tonja VanRoy

Santa Clarita

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